From DJs to choirs, 90s to ska: music highlights at Bedford River Festival 2022

One of the highlights for many people visiting Bedford River Festival (Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 July) is the music. With stages around the festival site, there’s something for everyone and this year is no exception.

Not only are there three music stages, but Town Bridge will also become a live music hospot, hosting Bedford Town Band among others.

Best of all, everything is completely free to attend, so grab your friends, your family and your dancing shoes and let’s make it a weekend to remember!

The Main Stage

The Main Stage is situated in Russell Park and features back-to-back performances from 11.30am on Saturday and 11am Sunday.

Hosted once again by The Pad Presents team, the Main Stage lineup is sure to get festival-goers up and dancing.

Oh my God! It’s the Church: Where partying is the new praising. Hallelujah!

You can find the full lineup here, but highlights include Back to the 90s featuring Urban Cookie Collective, Dario G and Capella closing the show on Saturday, genre-defying joy from Oh My God! It’s the Church, ska and reggae from the Dekkertones, plus local talent including Sarpa Salpa, PAT and a family-friendly set from punk-skiffle merchants, the Ouse Valley Singles Club.

Ending the River Festival program with a top-quality tribute has become something of a tradition and this year is no exception, with the excellent Strictly UB40 headlining on Sunday.

Ahead of them are Irish folksters, Life of Riley and also performing are local acts New Groove Formation (described as a turbo-charged version of The Specials), Low Girl, Zedo and Ill Behaviour and singer-songwriter Afreine.

The return of the Dance Music stage

The Dance Music stage made its first appearance at the River Festival in 2018, thanks to some of the biggest names in dance music all happening to live in Bedford.

Martin Carvell (MD of DJ Magazine) brought together a dance music dream team including Bill Brewster (DJ, journalist, publisher and writer of the seminal book ‘Last Night a DJ Saved My Life’, Matt Dicks (DJ Magazine, Ministry of Sound, UKF and Middle Beast) and Mark Russell (builder of studios, superstar DJ and the man behind Club Momacoca and Cafe Mambo) to create their own stage at the River Festival.

“Over two days, the lineup features an incredible mix of local and internationally renowned DJs playing non-stop quality dance music,” said Mark Russell.

“We will open each day with a yoga session to get you ready for the day’s dancing and everybody is welcome.

“The stage will be under the trees between Russell Park and the River, towards Newham Avenue so there is plenty of space to spread out and relax or to put your hands in the air and dance between the trees.”

Just one of the DJs in attendance…

The lineup on Saturday is 11am Barre Yoga Yoga; noon: DJ Competition Winner; 1pm: The Miller Collective; 2pm: Leigh The Flava & Bernie Pickering; 3pm: DubDub; 4pm: Seb Fontaine; 5pm: Judge Jules: 6pm: Ultra Vegas with Sassy B & Jason Jay; 7pm: Club Momacoca with Mark Russell & David James; 8pm: Sam Girling; 9pm: Olly Walker

Sunday is shaping up like this: 11am: Barre Yoga Yoga; noon: Feline Assembly; 1pm: Soul Movement with Stan The Man & DJ Rocky; 2pm: Edward Adoo (BBC Radio); 3pm: Herd Presents DJ Gian & Malc; 4pm: Dazz Norman & Sean Harvey; 5pm: DJ Spoony; 6pm: Jumpin Jack Frost.

BBC Introducing Music Stage

For the first time, BBC Introducing Music will host what was formerly known as the Community Stage.

It will be on Castle Mound, alongside the Green Earth Vegan Lounge.

The BBC Introducing team invited local acts to get in touch to bag a spot on stage. We can’t wait to see what the lineup looks like. Watch this space!

Bands on the Bridge

For the first time ever, Bedford’s iconic Town Bridge will be transformed into a performance area to serenade the river activities.

Bedford Town Band will be performing on Town Bridge at this year’s River Festival

On Saturday, Bedford Town Band, Luton Brass, Milton Keynes Brass and Lickerish Allsorts Clarinet Band will take to the unique stage.

On Sunday, Bedford Pipe Band, Hitchin Band and MD Sax’s Cool Band will be performing.

Find out more

We’ve compiled a one-stop guide to this year’s event here, and you can download your River Festival programme here.

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